• It’s been a long time since the dev team behind titles like Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64 have made a 3D platformer, but thanks to the contribution of Kickstarter backers, Yooka-Laylee seeks to return to form. And for better or worse, the game is very much like it’s predecessors. It seems that the only thing that got modernized were the visuals. Everything else is stuck in 1998.

    The game starts off with Yooka, a chameleon, and Laylee, their bat friend, lazing about in the hub world. But they finally get off of their butts once an incident causes their book and it’s pages to scatter across the worlds. Their quest leads them to Hivory Towers to get to the other worlds that you’ll be visiting. The world’s themselves need Pagies to unlock, and just like Banjo-Kazooie, there are quills that are currency needed to buy moves to get through the various areas in the game to get more pagies. There’s other collectibles like health and energy extensions, since the moves you buy usually need energy to use. While your energy meter will recharge over time, you’ll need to touch butterflies to instantly restore the meter. The moves in the hub world are free, and they usually don’t cost energy since they typically allow you access to the next world. Other collectibles are like the coins that are used to play arcade style mini-games for, yes, more Pagies. This formula is most definitely Banjo-Kazooie in everything but name. In fact, it could be argued that this was the planned Banjo-Threeie, only years later in HD, and different characters with a slightly different move-set.

    As for the rest of the gameplay, Yooka can roll across the levels, which are quite large, and can be even made larger by using more Pagies to expand the four worlds in the game. Four worlds might not seem like a lot but these levels really are large. Yooka can also restore health by eating the butterflies with their tongue, a la Battletoads. You can also gain elemental properties to get through areas as well, like eating fire berries to breathe fire, or honey to get sticky so you can go up slippery slopes. Also, with Laylee’s Help, you can double jump, and eventually get a glide move. There’s also events like minecart rides, or the ability to transform into new forms, usually for only a single Pagie or opening a path to a Pagie or two. Thankfully there’s enough variation in each of the levels to make item gathering less of a chore. Although the task of item gather can still be a bit tedious, but at least there’s only four worlds, and the item collection isn’t as insane as Donkey Kong 64 or Star Fox Adventures.

    While the gameplay is still fun, one can’t help but wonder what could have been done to make the game more modernized than the ‘ripped straight out of 1998’ design aesthetic it exudes. The camera can still be wonky, despite the patch, and you’ll sometimes find yourself fighting it to get it to rotate in certain spots. And since it’s emulating the 1998 design style, the voice acting is limited to the grunts and whoops you’d expect to hear in Banjo. It’s quite a shame after Conker’s Bad Fur Day had full voice acting in cut-scenes. At least the music is nice to listen to, with that familiar style also seen in Banjo and DK64. The graphical presentation also is well done, for something that was made in Unity. Even though the console version play at 30 frames, the game stays that way throughout, and it doesn’t deter from the action too much. But if you want 60 frames, you might have to wait for a patch for the PS4 Pro or get the PC version. But any player’s interest in this title will entirely weigh upon how much of the old-school 3D platformer design you can deal with. Players wanting to see the genre be moved forward or at least refreshed will need to look elsewhere. But if you love these types of games, you’ll likely enjoy this.

    Yooka-Laylee - Review
    A decent 3D Platform that has a few issues that hold it back, due entirely to being too traditional for it's own good.
    Our Score7.5
    • The levels look gorgeous for something made with Unity.
    • Health pickups are plentiful.
    • Why have the devs gone back to cartoon gibberish instead of actual voice acting?
    7.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

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